“From the inside out”: Gypsy, Roma & Traveller Community Development in Wales

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A presentation was delivered by Isaac Blake, director of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company (Cardiff, United Kingdom). 

31st March, 2015, 6 pm

Gallery8 – Roma Contemporary Art Space
Mátyás tér 13., 1084 Budapest, Hungary

The Cardiff-based Romani Cultural and Arts Company was formed in September 2009 as a not-for-profit company. Working through the arts the company raises funds to grow community development and educational projects from within Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites and then onto Gorjer and ‘country- folk’ communities across Wales. The company uses arts and culture as a vehicle for change and has a growing interest from a variety of high-profile organisations such as the Arts Council of Wales.

The company is intended to overcome the ignorance and mythology relating to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people living in Wales, and to promote a greater sense of self-worth among members of a community who largely internalised the racism that they experience. In a recent Arts Council of Wales report, its author stated that she “has uncovered nothing but praise for Isaac Blake – his work is universally acknowledged by academics, Gypsies, Travellers, politicians, public bodies and international organisations. This is a unique Welsh-based company that should be supported in every possible way.” (Yvonne Cheal August 2012)

Isaac spoke about the important, ground-breaking work of RCAC in Wales and beyond. Isaac answered many perceptive questions and suggested a partnership between Gallery8 and RCAC so that the two organisations could learn from each other. The audience was impressed by with visual evidence of the impact of RCAC’s work and acknowledged the significant leap forward in creating genuine ‘Community Champions’ who support the work of RCAC on the ground. Dr Ethel Brooks and Dr Andrew Ryder attended the presentation and supported Isaac in commenting on the success of the work he does in Wales. Isaac now intends to travel to Budapest more frequently with the aim of nurturing a deep, purposeful partnership with Gallery8 and other organisations.

Born a Romani Gypsy, Isaac Blake is a professional choreographer and Artistic Director of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company. He completed a 3 year undergraduate Diploma Dance Theatre Course at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London and also attended The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York. He has worked with artists and companies including Adventures in Motion Pictures, DV8, Ragdoll, the BBC, Chapter Arts Centre, Arts Council, FIND, S4C and local housing and education authorities in and around Wales and London.

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GALLERY8 – ERCF European Roma Cultural Foundation

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